Crime rise: Council tax will rise to meet costs of West Midlands Police salaries as bosses break pay cap
The police section of council tax bills will rise by four per cent in the West Midlands as the region is hit with its worst crime wave in a decade, it was today revealed.
House burglaries have rocketed by a third, car crime is up by 31 per cent, robberies have risen by 23 per cent, and thefts have increased by 18 per cent in the past year.
Meanwhile, Labour West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson plans to add £5 to the average tax bill to fund a pay rise for staff worth £1 million.
He hopes to give 3,000 non-officers, which includes PCSOs, call handlers, and administrators, a one per cent rise plus a one per cent bonus – breaking the current government-imposed one per cent pay cap.
Mr Jamieson said: “Just like officers, staff and PCSOs play a hugely important role keeping the region safe and deserve the same treatment. That is why I am taking tough decisions to ensure they receive a pay rise too.
“Emergency call handlers make life and death decisions, it is regretful that the government fails to see them as 'frontline' workers. In the West Midlands we most certainly recognise the contribution all our staff make to keeping us safe.
“I regret this announcement doesn't allow me to raise pay in line with inflation for staff, PCSOs and officers, however this shows how much I value the work all our workforce does. I hope by the time of the budget, the government will have put the funding in place to top-up this increase to match inflation.
“I am sure the public will back my decision to ensure fairness across the workforce. In the West Midlands council tax for policing will still be £60 cheaper than surrounding forces. Even after this announcement we will still be the second cheapest force in the country to council taxpayers.”
The council tax hike will also means that no officers will lose their jobs to fund pay rises, he said.
Overall crime in the region was up by 14 per cent from June 2016 and June this year.
The latest rise in recorded crime was described as the largest increase in 10 years by the Office of National Statistics.
Mr Jamieson, who has criticised government spending cuts, says even after the tax rise the average council taxpayer in the West Midlands will pay less than their counterparts in Staffordshire, where crime has increased by 13 per cent.
Wolverhampton Liberal Democrat campaigner Sarah Quarmby said: “I welcome the fact that hard working public sector workers are getting a pay rise. But it is a poor day to announce it. It allows people to say crime rises and so does your tax.”
Dudley South MP Mike Wood said: “There will be a lot of residents questioning why, when the commissioner is making claims of destitution, increases in tax are not being spent on getting more officers on the street.”